Yesterday I listened to a man talk about how his back hurt so bad he couldn't bend over and tie his shoe. Twenty years ago he had an accident and the subsequent surgery left him in unbearable pain for which he still took demerol. He only takes that on the weekends because he can't work on the drug. I decided to skip the questions about how you can have a script for demerol for twenty years and just listen. Gave him arthritis. It was hard to work. Nothing works on the pain. Leg gave out the other night and he fell and broke his glasses and that's why his face was all cut and bloody.
Have you tried Acupuncture? Massage? Chiropractic? Physical therapy? Stretching? Calcium Magnesium? Turmeric? Epsom salt baths? Hot tub?
I had an urge to run upstairs, grab all my anti-inflammation natural cures and make him a care package. I got my phone out to get the number of several chiropractors in town. Acupuncturists are rare but I had a referral. OH yea and the lady over at the wellness center who does Reiki, she could help with the nerve pain. How about St. John's Wort? the tincture is great for the neuralgia. I have some. How about a Yoga class?
As he took another drag from his Newport he crushed his (fifth) Mountain Dew can into the cooler. He came out with a 40oz Busch beer and popped the top. "You sure know a lot of stuff. You should be a psychologi---psychiatr---counselor," he slurred. "But I'm not goin' to any weird ass faggy Yoga hippy shit."
I was transported back to my years of bartending. My mantra: never apply rational principles to irrational people, which meant in that context, no arguing with drunks. But it worked here too. It's super frustrating for me because I want to help and I always go straight to solution mode, but most people really just want the ability to complain. Be heard. They may need all the help you want to give them but really don't want a solution. The cycle of feeling sorry for himself mixed with the promise of blitzing out every weekend in some powerful pain med haze was his thing. And at nearly 60, this was not a new habit. And I know better than to take this on. Surely I could find another Sisyphean task that would be more interesting if nothing else.
They commiserated over the price of groceries and how they could only afford frozen dinners. I calculated the price of ground chuck from my butcher and eggs and breadcrumbs and chipotle peppers and potatoes and figured I could make a meatloaf that would feed them for 3 days for $12. Meatloaf with chipotle sauce. Roasted potatoes. Omelettes. Maybe sneak some spinach from the garden in there.
They told me about their lousy expensive cell phone plans that were over $100 a month. I have a wi-fi based plan for $10 that switches to cell when there is no wifi nearby. Unlimited. Save you $1000 a year. No contract. Easy.
Not so much as a pen and paper...what's the name? Nothin. Just went back to complaining about the service, the fees, the plans, the money, the low tech phones. They pay for 3 plans as well. Not even so much as a family plan. I couldn't take it anymore. I was bursting with solutions! Ideas! Remedy! I can fix everything!
Just then, a little fairy came out of the trees and rang a teeny tiny bell in my ear.
Do not waste your wise words on deaf ears, friend. Funnel energy into worthy cause. Not all needy causes are worthy. These dudes are not going to flip the switch and get off the sugar, the nicotine, the caffeine the demerol and suddenly eat whole foods, cook and take responsibility for their health and switch to calcium tablets and start doing pilates and water aerobics. They are going to continue to wash down their gout medicine with cola and eat chocolate donuts out of a bag between insulin shots. You will not fix this. You maybe could fix this, but they don't want fixes.
It pained me, but I just said, Good luck with all that, and went upstairs. I am in a lot of ways a psycholi--psych---counselor. But people come to me for advice, consult, writing, ideas. And they pay for it and stuff. I'm a little late to my own party but I am drawing a line in the sand. If not asked, I cannot afford to put a hole in my energy bucket.